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Sustainable Strategies - The Eyes of the Skin... and other reading.

With my camera stowed away I have embarked on a week of reading to really get beneath both my understanding of architecture but more importantly how it connects with photography.

There were three main books to delve into and Pallasmaa's 'The Eyes of the Skin' is becoming a real favourite. It is not an easy read and I know that I will need to reread it to really getting beneath the meanings in it. However in essence he focuses on the fact that architecture historically plays to the sense of sight, the ocularcentric nature of Western culture, i.e. a bias of vision over other senses. He challenges this logic and illustrates how architecture needs to relate to all of the senses. With my project based on the photography of architecture I was struck how much this was evident in my own work, and that in essence the photographs are firmly based within this ocular centric framework. I had not considered how they could be used to relate to the other senes.

Pallasmaa also spoke of modern architecture ‘Buildings of this technological era usually deliberately aim at ageless perfection, and they do not incorporate the dimension of time…. This fear of the traces of wear and age is related to our fear of death’(Pallasmaa, 1996, p34). I am keen to understand how I can illustrate this in my work as I am looking at creating some form of timeline of the buildings in Birmingham and will want to show this wear and age if possible.

I have also begun reading Jane Tormey's book, 'Cities and Photography' which brings together her thoughts and observations on how photography is linked to the development of urbanism and the city. Whilst there is a wider focus than my project, i.e. including the interaction with people and communities, the book is giving me some solid foundations in which to build my project.

When analysing the context of photography in cities Tormey said ‘The subject might be viewed from below, which forces a very different attitude - that of of physically ‘looking up’ and by implication ‘looking up’ to something greater than myself’‘The subject might be viewed from below, which forces a very different attitude - that of of physically ‘looking up’ and by implication ‘looking up’ to something greater than myself’ (Tormey, 2013, p34)

This clearly has a link to my work as I intend to 'look up' and take all of my main shots from this vantage point. It will be interesting to see how this idea of looking up at something greater than myself translates as the multiplication of the images does then create a different aspect as you look down at the image.

My third book on my current reading list is a study of Architecture in Birmingham by Andy Foster and this will be a vital source of material and research in the next couple of weeks. I intend to capture a set of main images, between 9-16 of key buildings in Birmingham, whose construction will span the last 300 years. I want to capture different styles and eras so that an even and fair representation is given of Birmingham's architecture.


1.Juhani Pallasmaa (1996). The eyes of the skin. Chichester Wiley

2. Tormey, J. (2013). Cities and photography. London ; New York, Ny: Routledge.

3. Foster, A. and Al, E. (2007). Birmingham. New Haven: Yale University Press.


Books Sustainable Strategies - Steve Rabone - 2021

Multiplicity Three - Steve Rabone - 2021

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